For this year’s Memorial Weekend I ventured down to Clearwater Beach, Florida to enjoy the beautiful beach with my girlfriend and a couple of friends. Our Southwest direct flight from Indianapolis to Tampa Bay left early Saturday morning. Now I am not big on spending money so I used my Southwest points to fly three of us and only paid $33.60. The best part is I just earned my Southwest Companion pass so my girlfriend flies free when I fly whether I pay cash or with points. I earned most of my points through my Southwest Credit card. The flight itself went without any problems and we landed at 8:30 AM at Tampa Bay International Airport and that is where I made a rare travel blunder….
After taking Uber all the way from Tampa Bay to our hotel in Clearwater Beach I realized I had left my bag on the curb… So I took the same Uber driver all the way back to the airport and the bag was already gone but my water bottle was still sitting there. I contacted lost and found, talked with all the airline baggage attendants, and even talked with traffic officers and the bag was gone. Luckily it was one of my smaller bags and I didn’t have any of my valuables in it. I didn’t have to take an Uber back as my friend was driving in at the same time so that was fortunate as well. On the way back we stopped by a grocery store to pick clothes for myself, lunch, drinks, and food for the weekend. Despite landing at 8:30 AM I didn’t really get to Clearwater Beach until noon but my girlfriend was able to enjoy the hotel.
Holiday Inn Suites Clearwater Beach
I initially arrived at the Holiday Inn Suites Clearwater Beach around 10:00 AM but headed straight back to the airport but the front desk was kind enough to let me check-in over the phone to allow my girlfriend and friends into the room. Keep in mind this was an extremely early check-in time and it was a holiday weekend. To make more confusing I had booked it on two separate reservation one on points and another as a paid stay. They had no problems with that and would automatically check out and then back in for each reservation. Needless to say I was impressed and they upgraded our room thanks to my IHG Platinum status to a room with a full kitchen and amazing views. Honestly, the room location was superb as it was a corner room that overlooked the pool, ocean, channel way, and the restaurant which had live music from lunch time until about 10:00 PM every night.
The hotel itself is located just a couple minute walk to the beautiful Clearwater Beach. But if you want to hop in the water at the property you can jump in the pool or in the channel way which is actually really nice, even saw a couple of manta rays and dolphins there! To access the small beach on the channel just walk east through the hotel restaurant, not too many people used this small beach so I really liked it. We did dine at the restaurant twice and it wasn’t anything amazing but the atmosphere was great with their live music. But, I was impressed with the drinks at the pool bar.
Tip: Request 512 or the corresponding room on other floors. Best views by far.
Being near the ocean the main activity was just lounging around at the pool and beach. The huge Clearwater Beach was packed with people from partiers to families on all three days we were there. As for night activities our hotel was near the Wave Nightclub where Flo Rida performed Saturday night and Paul Van Dyk on Sunday night. The concerts were not free to get into but because the stage was essentially on the channel we managed to soak in the music from the small beach next to the Holiday Inn (see the picture below for the view). There are couple other bars nearby and who stopped Pan Filo’s Bar where they had cornhole setup and it wasn’t too packed which for me is a bonus.
While it was a short trip to Clearwater Beach, I really enjoyed it and it was the perfect amount of time. Any longer and I would have liked to explore the surrounding State Parks or downtown Tampa Bay. The Holiday Inn Suites Clearwater Beach beat all my expectations and if I do come back to the area I will plan my stays there thanks to it’s great location to the beaches, bars, and nightlife. Our flights home went smoothly with only a one hour delay because the inbound plane’s air conditioning stopped working. Luckily they swapped it with a new plane. Even better because we flew out on a holiday, Memorial Day, Southwest provided everyone of age a free alcoholic beverage. Overall a great weekend trip!